Brilliantly new idea – No one has thought

I wish it was true to have a ‘Brilliantly New Idea’ that no one has thought. I was asked recently whether one needs a ‘brilliantly new idea’ to start a successful business. Tough question to answer. This is for 2 reasons – novelty is scarce, brilliance is contextual.

Idea

I clearly remember when I was starting my own sports and fitness startup, I and my partner thought that we had a brilliant idea that no one else had thought about.

Within 2 months of starting, we realized that there were 3 other serious players in the market who were doing the same thing as ours. Did that mean our idea was not brilliant? If we speak to people who were not familiar with the competition, it was brilliant. However, for customers of the customers, it was a routine thing.

Similarly,

  • iPod, the revolutionary product that led to iPhone was not the first music player in the world.
  • Google was not the first search engine in the world
  • Reliance Jio was not the first Mobile operator in India
  • McDonald’s was not the first (and not the best) burger maker in the world
  • Arvind Mills was not the first automatic textile manufacturer in the world
  • And the list goes on…

So does the problem really lies with brilliance?

Same idea may be brilliant for some and mundane for others and vice versa.

Elon Musk, the idea and brilliance powerhouse of the world, is thinking about solving world’s transportation problems with EVs and the Boring Company; and also of the Universe with SpaceX.

For ISRO engineers, the problem that SpaceX is trying to solve is everyday job. Does that mean Elon Musk is not brilliant?

Similarly, people who embraced digital payments early were merely early adopters. When digitization via demonetization happened in India, the man on the street became a customer of the digital payments. Does it mean that early adopters are more brilliant than the man on the street?

The answer to both is No.

Further, when Flipkart started in India, it was not a brilliant idea. India already had IndiaPlaza.com. World already had Amazon.com. Flipkart copied over Amazon.com.

Amazon.com was (and is) brilliant in identifying the opportunity of product sales using the internet.

Now if Flipkart starts its operations in US, would it be a brilliant idea there? Certainly not. Unless, Flipkart addresses some of the gaps in the offering of Amazon.com in the US. Obviously it requires a lot of research and identifying the right gaps. Then making the right solutions to fill those gaps and then communicating to the customers about this value differentiated offering.

So brilliance has to sit in the context right. Any idea has to be brilliant if it is serving a need contextually.

The question then arises of one needs to do something successfully and at scale – whether a new project that is done for commercial purposes or to start a new business.

The two important things that one needs to look at then are below –

  • Scale of problem – One needs to spend time to identify the problem. Then the research should be to understand the ‘scale of the problem’. The bigger the scale of the problem that one is trying to solve. The greater is going to be the impact of the solution. The bigger the impact of the solution, the more the opportunities of making money/ reaping benefits.

 

  • Comprehensive research – This is one of the most ignored part by most young managers and entrepreneurs. Research may help you to find answers to some of the questions that you may have like below –
    • What is the current solution for the problem?
    • How many players are there?
    • Are there any gaps in the offering?
    • Can a marriage of technology with the field of interest make any impact?
    • Do I or my team have the skills to solve this problem?

A comprehensive approach to a given problem shall help to solve the most impending problems.

So instead of ‘Brilliantly New Idea’, one must focus on ‘Scale of the problem’.

Naming your Business? Here are 6 tips

I was recently asked by someone to suggest a name for their startup. This is not the first time that someone has approached me for this. I also often (not so often these days) see posts on social media from friends, families and acquaintances seeking name suggestions for their businesses.

Whatsinaname

Names are an important anatomical entity for anything. A name is an identity. It is the first conversational point – between people irrespective of whether they are customers, or employees or friends or anyone else.

Household names like Google, Uber, Starbucks, Facebook, Rin, Coke, TATA etc that have become part of everyday language and are an essential part of our lives. Of course, they have been pushed hard by some smart marketing but having a marketable name is the first step in the right direction.

On the other hand, there are business names that are regrettable to say the least as they shift focus from purpose to the quirky nature of these names. A simple Google search will give you some very interesting results:

  1. Rotten Wi-fi
  2. Bewakoof (In Hindi it means stupid) – No wonder this startup was bought by the now struggling e-commerce company Snapdeal.com.
  3. Fu King Chinese Restaurant
  4. Fat Ho Burgers (Translated to Get Fat Burgers)
  5. If you drive around your city in India, you may come across many such names B.Tech Chat Wala (An engineer selling snacks), Shoe Hospital (for a roadside cobbler), WhatsApp Snacks,  Please don’t say Theek-thaak (translated to Please dont say OK) and there are more

Shakespeare may disagree and roses may smell the same with another name but in business, telling name of the business is a defining moment for anybody. With the growing startup culture in countries like India, name could be a make or break for any further discussion with customers, investors, employees and vendors.

So what goes in a name? Below are some of the tips to consider while naming your business.

  1. Keep the name short and crisp – Distractions in the modern world have had a serious casualty in the attention span of people. People are usually mutli-tasking and rarely focused on what they have in front of them. To catch attention of such a busy mind, one needs to have a short and crisp name. Long and detailed names are most likely to go unregistered and unnoticed by the audience. Companies like Amazon, Google, Jio, Uber, Tinder etc understood this and kept the brand names short and crisp.
  2. Name should be relevant to business purpose – I get excited by companies that have their name telling me their story. Take example of some companies like
    • Netflix – One can easily make out that it is an internet business to watch your next movie flick
    • EBW (Express Bike Wash) – As simple and direct it can get. This company tells you that it is in the business of bike wash and one can expect quick response given that it is an ‘Express’.
    • ToysRus – The famous toy store chain is every kids delight. The name tells it all.
    • WebMd.com – It is the online doctor with an MD. You can find information of anything even remotely related to medicine here.
    • MapsofIndia – This tells that the visitor to this site can expect the maps from all over India here.
    • Now consider Government initiatives like Digital India, Skill India to name a few. These names clearly mark the purpose of the existence of these businesses and missions. A layman can understand what these businesses stand for.
    • Future Group, one of the largest retail groups in India, have adopted this approach in all its brands. They run stores general stores chain by the name of Big Bazaar, Electronics chain by the name of eZone, HomeTown for home furnishing and furniture – to name a few.
  3. Verb phrases in nature – Some businesses take the approach of naming themselves based on the verbs or actions that they expect their customers to do when they hear about them. Lets take an example of Flipkart. The company in clear intent tells its customers to flip their physical shopping cart and buy online from them.
  4. Names should be simple – I came across a couple of media agencies – Sokrati and Vezury. Frankly, it is very difficult for me personally to keep a clear recall of these brands and their purpose. Simply because they are just too lacking in purpose and unclear to common man that they are hard to remember.
  5. Keep them professional – There is a company by the name Web Chutney. Chutney is Hindi word for paste. In my days at a leading auto manufacturer in India, I used to interact with their staff and found them very professional and experts in their fields. However, every time I read their cards, I used to smirk reading at the name of the company. While it could be a good branding strategy to build a brand recall with such names but there are other ways to build professional business with professional names.
  6. Name for the right audience – If you are targeting global audience, the brand name needs to be global and non vernacular in nature. If your product or services are such that they are targeted to only a particular segment or customer type irrespective of geography then the name should be more personal to that group. For example, Infosys is a global name as they see the world as their market. However, Haldirams, the leading Indian snack company, sees only Indians and Indian diaspora as their target audience so they have a very localized name. Many a times translation from one language to another lead to disastrous meanings for well intended words and phrases. Here are some examples of straight translations that led to marketing discomfort for some of the big brands.

Names for business just as children last a lifetime. These names are registered and marketed entities and have lot of bearing in the marketplace. When you name your business, make sure that it is not something that you regret sooner or later. All the best with your journey to pursue your next big dream.

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Image Courtesy: https://creativemarket.com